When I look back on my childhood, which I try not to do very often, I sometimes wonder where it all went wrong. How five children, so close, went such different ways. Of course I can guess at the factors and try to work out the reasons, but perhaps I will never know for sure.
There was a time when I thought all I needed was my family – not my parents, for they hardly counted in my definition of 'family' – but my sisters, and my cousins, for we were thrown together on enough occasions, and anyway Bellatrix and I were used as childminders often enough. I suppose I thought that, and perhaps my name, would be enough to get me through life, so as I never guessed I would need or want more, it came as a surprise when I did.
My sister Bellatrix was born first. My mother Druella was only nineteen when she had her, although she had been married for a couple of years, missing her last year of Hogwarts, as was custom for pureblood families at that time, a custom which has now been banned, thank goodness. Mother had the classic 'Rosier' looks, just as we had our 'Black' image, as she was tall with light brown hair and slanting cheekbones. I suppose she must have been quite pretty though it hardly mattered. My father didn't marry her for looks, though all pureblood families prided in it. My father was a proud, sure man, and he was certain that Bellatrix would be a boy. He was so definite he even though of name: Cygnus Pollux after himself and his father. It was told that he had this engraved on the finest oak crib he could find with the Black family crest underneath, and blue silk sheets on top. Hopefully, this would be the first of two sons, for it was natural to have 'an Heir and a Spare' in case number one died. Even years after, it always annoyed Father that this was what his older sister had with Sirius and Regulus, though he would never have admitted it. So when Bellatrix was born he was disappointed but not dismayed, for daughters were useful too. Pretty and popular, they could bridge gaps between pureblood families, and ensure the bloodline stayed clean.
I was born a year later, carrying on the tradition of naming from the stars. Because of the small age gap, Bella and I were naturally close, and many thought we were twins. I think my father was probably annoyed at another girl, and apart from that there was nothing memorable about my babyhood. I was the boring one, set between my shining sisters, and nobody thought I would ever be remembered. Well, my family certainly remember me now. But I'm not sure if that's bad or good.
Two years after, Narcissa was born, the most beautiful baby you had ever seen. She had surprisingly silvery eyes, rosebud lips and blushing cheeks, and what was surprising was the shock of blonde hair she had. Never had the dark and brooding Black looks been overruled before. Mother was so overcome by her pale beauty she named her after the cream-coloured daffodils that grew in the rose garden. Narcissa was always our parents favourite, and freely admitted it, but it wasn't boasting as she was still a disappointment, being a girl. But as she was the only one of us that acted like a proper young lady, and actually listened to Mother's stern words about what a good pureblood girl should and shouldn't do, our family warmed to her.
I had tried not to think of my sisters or my childhood over the years, putting up a blockade in my mind whenever Bellatrix's or Narcissa's name appeared in the newspapers. I found it surprising I could still remember tiny details of my past life when I did let myself remember. And there was only one reason I was remembering. I sighed, thinking of my last encounter with my younger sister. In the dark ministry hall, the candles throwing flickering shadows about the room, I had suddenly panicked and fled, but not before I saw her watching me. I didn't want Narcissa to know I had been there. I had promised myself I wouldn't go, never, but hate and love warred, just like past and present, and would it hurt to take one last glimpse? And my curiosity had won, but we will get to that later.
The letter came six weeks after the Second War ended. The owl was a big, tawny one and I asked it to wait while I composed the words which would bring me forward. I didn't declare anything, or promise anything, I only said I would meet, and I would listen. Perhaps it would be enough, perhaps not.
After that first meeting with my estranged baby sister, I decided maybe it would help if I remembered my former self. And so I began to write, when the house was quiet, my grandson asleep, and it was like meeting another person, this child who I had struggled to forget. But I wrote it all, as much as I could, and then I put it in an envelope and posted it to several different people. I kept the original for myself, and vowed not to remember, but never to forget again.
And so this is the story, the story of five little children torn apart by war, and love, and justice, and fear, and old prejudices made long before we were born. And it shall be told.
This is the story of the Black children.
By Andromeda Callidora Black Tonks